The Billabong XXL Awards is one event where it’s probably best for all parties involved to avoid making each year bigger than the last. But the nature of the contest is to continue outdoing past records. And the 2012 XXL Awards, held at The Grove theater in Anaheim this Friday, delivered on that expectation in more ways than one.
Nathan Fletcher took top honors for his heroics during last year’s infamous “Code Red Swell” at Teahupoo. For his one death-defying session, he was awarded the Monster Tube, Best Men’s Performance, and Ride of the Year.
By the end of the night, Fletcher had taken home $60,000 for the three awards, which is still far less than you’d have to pay most surfers– even professionals– to risk life and limb at Teahupoo. When asked what was going through his mind during the Ride of the Year wave, he recounted thinking, “I can’t survive if I don’t make it to the shoulder. Then I realized I wasn’t making it…To myself I was just like, ‘Okay, it’s been great. Life’s great. This is it’… I couldn’t believe I was still alive.”
With Occy as host for the evening, there was no shortage of entertaining moments to provide some comedic relief between clips of the year’s heaviest big-waves. Greg Noll’s appearance onstage with two Playboy Playmates, where he broke from the script, was one of the many highlights (you’ll have to watch that one for yourself at 1 hr. 45 min. below). Yet no performance– at the show or on film– overshadowed that of Nathan Fletcher at Teahupoo.
Men’s Performance Champion: Nathan Fletcher
Girl’s Performance Champion: Maya Gabeira
Ride of the Year Champion: Nathan Fletcher at Teahupoo, Tahiti
Biggest Wave Champion: Garrett McNamara at Praia do Norte, Portugal
Monster Paddle Champion: Dave Wassel at Jaws, Maui
Monster Tube Champion: Nathan Fletcher at Teahupoo, Tahiti
Wipeout of the Year: Garrett McNamara at North Shore, Oahu
Watch XXL Awards Show: